"I swear we were going to wear our sponsor's kit but it got soaked in the rain!" Senior 3 Podium: L-R...Maxime Labrie (4th); Robert Ralph (2nd, Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss); James Piccoli (1st, Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss); Vincent Lessard (3rd, Brunet); Nicholas Geoffrion (5th). ©2010 Gene Piccoli

The time trial, it is often said, is “the race of truth.” OK, but the truth of what?

L-R: France Bordeleau (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss); Judith Hayes (Independent); Manon Gobeil (Lapraicycle) ©2010 Nick Van Haeften

The commonplace understanding of “the race of truth” is that time trialing represents your “real” strength, without the aid of drafting and group racing skills. It’s just you against the elements. This approach to time trialing can be extremely stressful, and racers who haven’t done a lot of TTs often become afraid to do them in case they reveal their “real” abilities. The mythology that constructs time trialing as “a revelation” constructs the victor as capable of immense suffering as they ride the threshold of a maximal effort and collapse. This association of TTs with pure suffering further intimidates cyclists from trying them out.

Instead of cowering under the fiery trinity of truth, revelation and pure suffering, I prefer to approach time trialing from an earthly, material perspective. In fact I have a real aversion to coaching regimes organized around the mythologization of PAIN. It is a mistake to narrow all the incredible experiences one can gain from cycling into a single word or slogan. Clients all too easily believe that they must suffer to train properly. Worse, those being trained under banners of pain are then repeated chastised for exceeding their watts or heart rate ranges during endurance rides–even though the whole approach to cycling celebrates pain! So the client gets blamed for overtraining!! Understanding time trialing as a particular kind of cycling scenario helps avoid this narrow, unproductive, and ultimately intimidating approach to the sport.

The importance of your equipment makes it obvious that materiality is an essential aspect of time trialing. TT bikes are faster than beach cruisers. To do well, you must be able to adapt your body to your time trialing machine or materials. Yes, TTs are about managing the materiality of your body to push its limits, but this is true of many scenes in cycling. What makes TTs different is that you race against the clock, as opposed to other riders. In this sense, time trials are symbolic of life. You cannot beat the clock, but you can excel beyond what your body would seemingly offer you on the day. In this sense, exceeding the body’s limits brings for the experience of excellence, which is not limited to suffering or pain. Your body can carve through space during time trials, and often your fastest rides are produced when you are so in the zone you barely feel the pain.

Time trialing is not the race of truth, nor is it a measure of you as a “cyclist”. Time trialing provides the opportunity to experience a specific feeling of excellence, one obtained when you excel beyond what your body would seem to offer at the time of the race. It is a feeling of excellence associated with the body’s race against the clock, and the fantasy that somehow you can get something more out of every day.

Noteworthy performances by Toguri Training Clients at Granby:

Judith Hayes (independent), 1st place, Maitre F. Not bad for her first race! Judith is coached by Michelle Paiement.

Robert Ralph (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss), 2nd place, Senior 3. Robert is affectionately called “Jr” but after this performance…nah, we’ll still call him “Jr”

Michelle Paiement (Stevens), 6th, Senior 1 women. Good work coach!

Vanessa Cheong (Rio Tinto/Martin Swiss), 9th, Maitre E. Before the race I sent a list of 12 tips/reminders to clients. Point 9: Don’t miss your start!! I guess Vanessa skipped that point, and was penalized about 6 min. She would have been 4th or 5th!! You have to take what the day offered… still…

About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

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